Australia’s move is not as sweeping as Britain’s decision to open a path to citizenship for as many as three million Hong Kongers. But the announcement reflected global concern about China’s new law for the territory. New Zealand’s government also said on Thursday that it would review the country’s relationship with Hong Kong.
“China’s decision to pass a new national security law for Hong Kong has fundamentally changed the environment for international engagement there,” said Winston Peters, the country’s deputy prime minister who also handles foreign affairs.
Taiwan, where several participants in Hong Kong’s protest movement have fled over the past year, has also established an office to help Hong Kongers.
In an editorial on Wednesday, The Global Times, which is owned by the Communist Party of China, warned that the Australian economy would have a “bitter pill to swallow” if Canberra gave Hong Kong citizens a “safe haven.”
But Hong Kongers in Australia welcomed Mr. Morrison’s announcement.
“Hong Kong is facing something hopeless and dreadful,” said Sunny Cheng, a representative for the Association of Hong Kongers in Western Australia. “We are really grateful that Australia offers a helping hand in this really difficult period of time.”
Extending incentives for Hong Kong businesses to establish themselves in Australia would help rebuild Australia’s economy in turn, he added.
“We are hardworking. We can help to rebuild,” Mr. Cheng said.
Isabella Kwai contributed reporting from Sydney.